"His victim is his wife."

Translation:Jego ofiara to jego żona.

December 26, 2015

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Can you swap the second jego with swoja?

  • 2470

Not in this case... Sometimes you cannot use "swój/swoja/swoje" if there are two persons involved. I cannot give you a verified rule, but a rule of thumb would be, that if in English you have two "his", two "her", or two "its" - then none of them can be changed to "swój/swoja/swoje". But I suppose, that in details, this may be somewhat complicated. See samples:

  • "His house is his castle " - [Jego dom to jego twierdza] - "swoja" would be a gibberish here.
  • "Her children are her best friends" - [Jej dzieci są jej najlepszymi przyjaciółmi] - same here
  • While... "His love to his wife" - both are correct , but [Jego miłość do swojej żony] is probably what this phrase means in English, while [Jego miłość do jego żony] - without any context, the first impression would be, that it is about a wife of another man, although with proper context it can mean the same as in English.


The example of "Jego miłość do swojej żony" is quite interesting. I had thought that swój always referred to the subject of the sentence, so "His victim was his wife" would have to take jego, but "He killed his wife" would use swój. In this example, though, isn't the subject jego miłość? Why would it be swój? Is it because this is just a phrase, not a full sentence, so the subject might still be on or pan or something similar?

  • 2470

Well, I think that not quite. In Polish translation of "His victim is his wife" - "his wife" and "his victim" both may be Subject or Object, depending on the context of the sentence. I mean, depending if we were talking rather about a crime/violence or rather about the wife of his. Is it the same in English?

In Polish, when we use the structure with "to" - both Subject and Object are in Nominative. This phrase would be easier to analyse if we change to a sentence using the verb "być" - then Subject is in Nominative and Object is in Instrumental.

  • If we put that to [Jego ofiarą(O) jest swoja żona(S)] or [Swoja żona(S) jest jego ofiarą(O)] - it is gibberish.
  • If put to [Jego żona(S) jest swoją ofiarą(O)] - "swoją" refers to Object - but that means "His wife(S) is a victim(DO) of herself(IO)" - what in Polish is only a pronoun, in English becomes an Indirect Object...
  • [Swoją ofiarą(O) is his vife(S)] - it is a bit "Yoda speaking", but this is correct to mean the same as above.
  • [Swoja ofiara(S) jest jego żoną(O)] - it is grammatically correct, but semantically nonsensical - it would be something like "The sacrifice of himself is his wife" (yes, in Polish "sacrifice" and "victim" may be the same word)

I think that with the second phrase "His love to his wife" - "his love" and "his wife" would be both Objects in a sentence (direct and indirect). If for example we translate "For him(S), the most important is his love(DO) to his wife(IO)" it would be [Dla niego najważniejsza była jego miłość do swojej żony].

If we try some other, shorter sentences:

  • He pulled out his gun - [On(S) wyciagnął swój pistolet(O)]
  • Take care of your dreams - [(Ty(S)) zadbaj o swoje marzenia(O)]
  • He plants his flowers for his mother - [On(S) sadzi swoje kwiaty(DO) dla swojej matki(IO)] . However, it is also also correct as [On sadzi jego kwiaty dla jego matki] (but it is more likely to mean "He plants some other man's flowers for the mother of that man") or [On sadzi jego kwiaty dla swojej matki] (but it is more likely to mean "He plants some other man's flowers for the mother of his")

In other words, it seems to me, that "swój/swoja/swoje" would stand by the Object, and with phrases with Direct and Indirect Object it may stand before any of them, but it always indicates a relation between the Object (Objects) and Subject - while using "jej/jego" at the Object/Objects may (but not always will) indicate a relation to some other persons.

I can imagine phrases, there "swój" would refer to Subject, but most of what I came to, was awkward either in Polish or in English, and would sound better if other pronoun was used - f.ex.

  • [Swój dom(S) jest jest najważniejszy] (this is the least awkward, but better would be [Własny dom jest najważniejszy] - "One's home is the most important.
  • [Swoje zdanie(S) mam] - this is is not awkward, but. it would be better as [Moje zdanie(S), to ja mam] aand.. what is in Polish Subject, in English sentence probably has to be Object: "I(S) have my own opinion(O)" - or I think that without switching Object and Subject, it would be awkward, and I am not even sure if that would be correct English: "My own opinion(S) is something that I(O) have".

But, as I said it not even once - I am not a linguist. I may be wrong, and I am interested if this may be digged deeper into.

BTW, here is a translation of "swój" from a good dictionnary.

swój (I) a pronoun, that, in appropriate contexts, may replace other possessive pronouns: mój, twój, nasz, wasz, jego, jej, ich , meaning that what is expressed by the noun that this pronoun relates to, belongs or refers to:

  • The speaker of the sentence, e.g. [Spakowałam wszystkie swoje rzeczy] - "I packed all my things";
  • The person, that the speaker is addressing to, e.g. [Zabierz stąd swoje rzeczy] - "Take your stuff out of here";
  • The group of persons that the speaker belongs to, e.g. [Wyłożyliśmy im swoje racje] - "We explained (lit. broke down) our arguments to them";
  • The group of persons that the speaker is addressing to, e.g. [Dlaczego nie mówiliście o swoich problemach?] - "Why you did not tell (me) about your problems";
  • Or to other persons or things, e.g. [Umówił się ze swoją dziewczyną] - "He arranged a date with his girlfriend".

swój (II), noun, (colloquial) somebody who is close, allied, belongs to the same community or family.


Thank you very much. I can see what you are getting at here, and it makes me think about this reflexive possessive pronoun in all the Slavic languages (and even the Scandinavian ones) rather differently. The rule I was given was essentially a very simplified version, suitable for college students of Russian, I would think.


Why is the final vowel ą in the subject here?


Can you write the sentence in question? The default translation is "Jego ofiara to jego żona.", which doesn't have any 'ą'.

I suspect that the translation you're referring to might be 'Jego ofiarą jest jego żona'. In this case 'żona' is the subject and 'ofiara' is the direct object, which must be in the instrumental case when it relates to jest, hence 'ofiarą'.

You could also say 'Jego ofiara jest jego żoną'. In this case 'ofiara' is the subject and 'żona'->'żoną' (instrumental) is the direct object


However "Jego ofiara jest jego żoną" gets corrected to "Jego ofiarą jest jego żona" (Reporting now)


It was, indeed, the second sentence. I was thinking of the noun before the verb as the subject, but of course, the noun in the nominative must be the subject. I just don't think I had ever seen one of these instrumentals with the copula before the verb.


Hi, I used the verb być here. I wrote Jego ofiara jest jego żoną. With the word victim being nominative and the word wife being instrumental. The translation has it the other way around. Jego ofiarą jest jego żona. Would my answer be acceptable polish, and if so is there a subtle difference in meaning?

Cheers Daniel


I see some slight difference... which I cannot even explain. Added.


what is the difference between this and Jego ofierą jest jego żona , and Jego ofiera jest jego żoną


Apart from the fact that it's ofiara, not ofiera, the sentences are... almost identical. The subject is different (what stays in Nominative is the subject), but it's hard to find a real difference in meaning.


Can't the second jego be implied? Jego ofiara to żona. I would think that if it was somebody else's wife then you would get specific.


I'm afraid it's not like that. It would be implied if the wife was the object of the sentence. Then you would assume that the object belongs to the subject.

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